The Merchant of Venice
Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice in 1596-97 and the play was published for the first time in 1600. His main source for the plot was an Italian novella in Ser Giovanni Fiorentino’s collection Il Pecorone (1558). Antonio, a wealthy Venetian merchant, agrees to give financial help to his friend Bassanio, who needs to clear his debts if he is to present himself as a worthy suitor to Portia, the rich heiress who will marry the man who correctly identifies which of three caskets, made respectively of gold, silver and lead, contains her portrait.
Bassanio and Antonio ask Shylock the Jew for a loan of three thousand ducats; he agrees, though he remembers how often Antonio has insulted him and his fellow-Jews at the Rialto. Shylock “in a merry sport” proposes a contract whereby failure to repay the debt at the appointed time and place will give Shylock the right to cut a pound of flesh from any part of Antonio’s body. Despite Bassanio’s protests, Antonio signs the bond… Additional information and plot click here